By Martha Keeffe  

There are a few things that all good Irish pubs and eateries have in common: hearty food, plenty of beer and a good dose of entertainment. And for patrons seeking such distractions, they can find them at Dublin Square Irish Pub & Eatery, located on the corner of Main and 3rd in downtown La Crosse. 

“La Crosse has a strong Irish heritage and culture,” says Matt Boshcka of what motivated him and his co-owners, Matt Birnbaum and Tim Larsen, to open Dublin Square in April 2011. “Prior to opening Dublin Square, there wasn’t a traditional Irish pub to celebrate this. We feel we have done a great job filling that niche.”

To test that claim, my husband and I were invited to try out what the restaurant has to offer. Ushered to a high-top table just around the corner from the bar (with seating for dining and TVs), we settled in and started off with an order of the Reuben Rolls, though the homemade Wisconsin cheese curds sounded awfully tempting. Wrapped in wonton wrappers, the rolls were fried to a crisp golden brown and stuffed with thinly sliced corned beef (which, along with up to 90 percent of Dublin Square’s menu, is made in-house), mozzarella cheese, sauerkraut and tangy house Thousand Island dressing. They were delicious!  

At the suggestion of Boshcka, my husband ordered the shepherd’s pie, a savory baked casserole of lamb, beef, peas, carrots and onions combined with Guinness gravy (yes, it’s made using Guinness Stout!), and topped with mashed potatoes, while I chose the Bangers and Mash. Known for their tendency toward bursting or banging open at high temperatures, these stout-looking Irish sausages are a pub fare essential. And because of their savory flavor, these plump sausages pair well with mashed potatoes, which, to my delight, were also served with the Guinness gravy. Both entrees were hearty, hot, flavorful and extremely satisfying. 

When asked how the locals have responded to the Irish fare on the menu, including corned beef and cabbage, Irish stew, fish and chippers, and bread pudding, Boshcka says that these dishes “are very popular at Dublin Square,” noting that “you can’t find these items anywhere else in La Crosse County.” And for diners looking for something from “this side of the pond,” the menu offers tasty specialty burgers like the Rowdy Reuben and American Classic, along with wraps, salads and a variety of entrees ranging from Bourbon Pecan Encrusted Salmon and Spicy Penne Alfredo to Guinness Beef Tips.

Of course, no Irish pub is complete without a well-stocked bar. “In addition to a selection of Irish beers and plenty of Irish whiskeys, we have 16 beers on tap, mostly craft, mostly from Wisconsin, Minnesota or Ireland,” says Boshcka. 

Knowing this, we’re anxious to visit their four-season patio where we can enjoy more of the Irish pub experience. “In my opinion,” says Boshcka, “that includes good music, the clanking of pints, fun and friendly service, and great conversation about the day’s events.” 

For more information, visit www.dublinsquarepub.com.